Project Spotlight: Kokomo, Indiana, Uses Mentoring and Induction to Turn Around Teacher Retention

With the support of the Talent for Turnaround Leadership Academy's cross-state Mentoring and Induction Affinity Group and the Great Lakes Regional Comprehensive Center, the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) and Kokomo School Corporation (Kokomo) leadership teams are working to improve teacher retention through a new comprehensive mentoring and induction program.

Kokomo Team
The Indiana/Kokomo team included, from left: Stacy Rush, Frank DeRosa, Maggie Rowlands, Scott Syverson, Kelly Wright, Shari Switzer, Tenicia Helmberger, and Tom Hughes.

As part of the Mentoring and Induction Affinity Group, they participated in a series of six in-person and virtual workshops that supported the development of resources and processes to develop and implement a comprehensive teacher induction program. Outside the workshops, the team met regularly and used knowledge-building activities and resources from the GTL Center's Mentoring and Induction Toolkit 2.0 to facilitate a data dive, root cause analysis, induction program inventory, and other activities.

These activities led to:

  • the discussion and development of program goals;
  • concrete mentor selection criteria;
  • targeted professional learning materials for new teachers and mentors;
  • mentor and new teacher assessment plans based on teacher and mentor standards; and
  • a monitoring plan that includes unique surveys of mentors, teachers, and administrators to assess the quality and fidelity of the program.

According to Lisa Lachlan, GTL Center M&I Lead, T4TLA helped Indiana and other states build on and improve existing programs: "Although a lot of our Affinity Group teams had some type of mentoring and induction program in place, those programs weren't necessarily evidence-based or focused on best practices, so we took them through a series of workshops that really supported them in thinking through those best practices and evidence-based strategies to have a much more comprehensive and effective mentoring and induction program. "

The Indiana team piloted the new mentoring program during the 2017–18 school year at four high-need schools in Kokomo. At the end of the pilot year, all four schools retained all their new staff. As a result, the new mentoring program was expanded to all 13 instructional sites in Kokomo in the 2018–19 school year.

"T4TLA has really helped Indiana and Kokomo really focus on how we can support our new teachers and help them be successful in their first couple of years of teaching. "

—Principal, Pettit Park Elementary Technology Academy, Kokomo, IN

Beyond Kokomo, the state team at IDOE developed a comprehensive online Moodle platform course that draws on the GTL Center's Mentoring and Induction Toolkit and aims to support the scale-up of comprehensive mentoring and induction programs across the state.

IDOE is piloting this course with four new districts committed to addressing teacher attrition in high-need schools with the goal that each district will be prepared to implement a comprehensive induction program in 2019–20. Once these four districts gain traction, the state team anticipates supporting additional districts through the course for statewide scale-up.

"It's great to be sitting at the table with partners who understand how important this is and how they impact our work in Indiana. We simply could not do this work without their help and we look forward to our continued partnership down the road."

—Staff Member, Indiana Department of Education